The Odd Evening Walk

Just as I finished working today and as soon as I submitted the file I felt a compelling need to lie down and rest my eyes for a while. The next thing I know, I was in deep sleep. It was the first time I nap during the day in a very long time, maybe in years.

However, after I managed to get up more than an hour later, I was in a state of exhaustion, like I just wanted to go back to sleep again. So, in the spirit of my deep-rooted feeling that sleep is a waste of life and should be kept to a minimum, and to celebrate the restoration of the brisk night reeze in Amman and its suburbs, I decided to go for a walk to the supermarket after sunset.

Every time I go on such an impromptu, or even a planned walk, it hits me hard how much you miss out on when you do all your errands by car. Just as I left home I overheard a conversation between two boys on the street. One of them was telling the other that China makes crappy stuff and it’s not as great a country as he seems to think. The other replied that China makes good things but we only get the bad stuff. I couldn’t help that there was more to it than just a boyish conversation. These boys are discovering the world. Today they are discussing Chinese industries, 10 years from now they might be discussing the virtues and vices of communism versus capitalism.

Further down the road, there were 3 boys riding bicycles. Bicycles have a very special place in my heart and memory. There was a bump-up in the road and something about the way the bicycles heaved over the bump-up that made me almost want to ask them to let me take a ride. In fact, not very long ago it occurred to me to buy a bicycle for home use, to share with my brothers. However, I was discouraged by the fact that we would have to keep adjusting the height of the seat, or I’ll just have to risk falling off the bike.

I decided to go to the farthest supermarket, to prolong the distance and, to be honest, they have the best chocolates. As I exited into the main street I could feel the heat coming out from the cars, another reminder why one of my dreams has always been to retire in a farm house in the countryside. Down the road there was a watermelon tent, with dirty-looking carpets covering the ground up to the edge of the street, and that made me wonder about two things: Do watermelon tents exist outside the Middle East? And, do they ever wash these carpets when the season is over? Or do they just throw them away?

Then I reached the supermarket, and I took my sweet time moving between the aisles, picking stuff of the shelves and returning them and then picking them again. I got some cakes, chips and flavored milk for my nieces of course because it would be a total betrayal to be at the supermarket and not get them anything, that would totally create a rift in the relationship. And of course, I got myself some stuff for my stash, there must always be a stash.

I left the supermarket after what seemed like forever. I took the first turn into the neighborhood to minimize the distance I had to walk on the main road. This is the route I used to take when I came back from university; the only difference is that I used to take a shortcut, which no longer exists now as there’s a commercial complex in its place, the same one housing the supermarket I was at minutes ago. I remember there was a little girl I would meet on my way back through there sometimes, her name was Sura. There was a bunch of little girls nearby and it occurred to me to stop and ask which of them was Sura, she would be around 13 or so now, but I decided against it because it would be meaningless and possibly freaky for the girl.

I walked on, passing by a newly built building whose ground floor windows looked very appealing. They had small colorful plant pots on the windowsill and the design of the window panes along with the lighting inside made it look like something out of a movie. I couldn’t resist but take a peek inside, despite the moral conflict and feeling like a peeping Tom, but I really wasn’t trying to spy on them or anything, I just wanted to have a feel of how it was inside. It’s still wrong, I know.

Further down the road I passed by the mini market we used to go to as kids. I opened when I was in the second grade, and it was one of our daily destinations, sometimes several times a day. It was closed at the time and I thought that in our day it would be open at such an hour, and we would be going back and forth to buy cheap snacks. A few years ago I took my niece, who was 4 years old at the time, to that minimarket. I wanted her to experience something else other than the big supermarkets with expensive candy bars. Well, she wasn’t impressed at all. In fact she acted like a grossed-out Mary Antoinette. It’s funny how we used to buy a ton of things with less than 50 piasters while nowadays if you’re taking kids to the supermarket you must be armed with a fat load of cash.

Turning the corner, a few meters down the road was our old house and the street where we spent a handsome part of our childhood. There were children on the street but they didn’t seem to be having nearly as much fun as we were in those days. A group of girls had a baby stroller with them, which was something we frequently had too as there was always a baby in the neighborhood at one point or another, and apparently the neighbors were happy to dump their babies on the neighborhood kids and have some time for themselves, which is completely understandable.

So, what started off as an energizing walk turned out to be a walk down memory lane. Most interestingly, I was mentally blogging all the way, which brings back the good old days when that was a constant mental exercise. It’s amazing how many little things you could discover and rediscover when you stretch your legs and spare the air some emissions!

 

2 responses

  1. This is nice. I wonder if our generation (30s, born early 1980s) was the end of an era of informality (small stores vs. chain, big brand stuff) or if we just think we are and every generation goes through incomprehensible changes?

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